Case Details


Common Law Powers, Conflicts, Status In State Government

Filing State



Michigan Court of Appeals




Attorney General v. Michigan Public Service Com’n, 625 N.W.2d 16 (Mich.App. 2000)


Attorney General must appoint counsel for state agency when AG is an opposing litigant.

Case Description

AG challenged a decision of the state Public Service Commission, which was also represented by the AG’s office. Court held the attorney general must appoint independent counsel for an agency if the attorney general is an actual party opposing the agency. The court reviewed cases from a number of states and found a “majority rule that, in most instances, an attorney general may represent adverse state agencies in intragovernmental disputes.” Where the attorney general is a party to the litigation, however, “independent counsel should be appointed for the state agency in order to remedy the ethical impediment to the legal action brought by the attorney general.” Court also addressed the applicability of bar rules to AG conflicts. Court noted that it was not diminishing the powers of the attorney general’s office to intervene as counsel for disputing state agencies, to defend the constitutionality of legislative enactments, or to act in an advisory role to state agencies or to initiate statutory review proceedings.